By Lyndsi Moore
The arts are a continuously evolving and vital part of many careers. They are included as part of a “well-rounded education” yet, even before the pandemic, there were disparities in access to arts education in schools leaving high poverty schools to have the least access to arts education. There are many reasons schools claim to not put an emphasis on the arts: lack of funding, other curricular priorities, limited access, lack of engagement, etc. However, arts education should be a right for all children regardless of their family's financial situations. My school district was very diverse in the socioeconomic standpoints that the students came from. While some of the students came from upper-middle-class families, we also had a lot of students that came from low-income households and struggled with even supplying a basic resource of food. According to Public School Reviews, in my elementary school, over 70% of the students qualified for free/reduced lunch, almost doubling the state level. Although I came from a more upper-class family, I did a lot of community service with my church and worked food, clothing, and school supply drives in order to help these families, giving me the opportunity to see firsthand how students' access to different opportunities is limited by their socioeconomic status.
The American for the Arts Congressional Arts Handbook emphasizes that arts education helps students' emotional well-being and cope with the changing world. Additionally, a report from the National Endowment for the Arts highlighted that schools offering students the opportunity to engage with the arts, in some type of way, are more likely to close the achievement gap. There are so many sectors of the arts that can be utilized: painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, music, cinema, and theater. Many schools today treat the arts like a fee. Every tool, costume, or workbook that is needed for the curriculum had to be purchased by the student. This increased the opportunity gap because although there are many students in poverty that are talented in many artistic aspects, it is much harder for them to excel for they do not have access to the same tools as others simply because they cannot afford to pay for it.
As I grew in my love for theater, I was educated on how impactful being a part of the arts is for it teaches
creativity, self-esteem, self-discipline, problem-solving, and critical thinking in an interactive way. Arts environments foster social and emotional development which will ultimately prepare students for success in school, work, and life. The arts education that I was provided the opportunity to engage in paved the road for my future career. I had the opportunity to see firsthand how effective arts education is for students of all ages. In addition to giving them an outlet, it helps them to learn skills that prepare them for their futures. The youth today are the fuel to our country’s future and without the arts, there is no way for them to grow in their creativity.
Lyndsi Moore is a sophomore Education Studies major with Co-majors in Entrepreneurship and Arts Management. She hopes to one day create her own Children’s Performing Arts business. Additionally, she is a part of the Miami Club Cheer team and a choreographer for Performing Arts Inc.